On Sunday I'm gathering with members of my congregation to talk about the future of youth ministry here. We currently have a vibrant Confirmation Class that meets on Sunday mornings, and a group of 15 youth and 5 adults just returned all pumped up from a weekend youth gathering sponsored by the synod. We currently don't have much programming for youth outside of the Sunday morning experience, but I expect that to change . . .
- Why have a youth ministry?
- What shall we offer/do in our youth ministry?
- What assumptions about our youth do we bring to this ministry?
- What assumptions about our adults do we bring to this ministry?
- What do we expect to occur in the lives of our young people through this ministry?
- What do we expect to occur in the life of this congregation through this ministry?
(These questions are based on questions posed by ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson in an excellent letter to pastors on the ministry of preaching.)
I think it is important to have this conversation about youth ministry intergenerationally, to bring lots of voices to the table. Youth ministry is congregational ministry, not a segregated ministry apart from the wider church. Age-specific programming is important, but if youth ministry doesn't seek to be part of the broader church, and if the broader church doesn't seek to be part of the youth ministry, then it is doomed to be a ghetto of youth and youth workers distinct from the church's central ministry of Word and Sacrament.